Back in the day, Tommy drove a green Dodge Stealth. It was a cool car. Drove nicely and made him look like a movie star wherever he went—the perfect touch of fancy without overdoing it. It had just enough storage room in the back of the car for a small alligator (that story another time).
As our university days came to a close and Tommy packed his bags for Zimbabwe, he left his shiny car in my possession in the USA. It was my goal to sell this ride as quickly as possible and for a nice profit.
As cool as the car was, I didn't want the paparazzi mistaking me for a movie star and I didn't want it to sit idly in my driveway. So, I decided to put my ad writing skills to the test.
[For those of you unfamiliar with Craigslist, it's like an online classifieds section of the newspaper complete with full listings, photos, and just about anything you could possibly want to buy. I decided that I would try and sell the car on this website.]
It was a cold night and I didn't want to be bothered with maintaining the car, even though it looked like Batman's car—it was a green batmobile.
So I put a quick ad up and it read something like this:
Holy Cow Batman! Selling The BatMobile! You Gotta See This Car! What a steal.
Ever wanted to look like Batman as you cruise down the streets? Well now you can and for an affordable price too!
What's cool about this car:
-You look like Batman when you drive it.
-It goes quite fast.
-It's been nicely maintained. Believe it or not a grandmother owned it and placed it in her garage before current owner.
-You look like freaking Batman when you drive it!
What needs a little work:
-Needs new windshield wipers.
-Needs a little love in a few spots on the paint (minor flecks).
-The handgrip on the gearshift is coming off because I drove it like Batman!
The price is firm, this is a great deal, please inquire only if you are serious about paying cash for this car. Thanks.
And I posted the ad.
30 minutes later my phone was ringing off the hook. 60 minutes later, I had sold the car for several thousand dollars cash.
That's right, a buyer came at night, looked it over, took it for a quick spin in the neighborhood, then presented cash and bought the vehicle. It was that easy and I had a stack of Benjamins to prove it.
Let's take a quick look at how you can duplicate this success:
- The headline really does matter. The mention of Batman catches your attention. In a Craigslist setting with thousands of other ads competing for attention, the headline is the most critical part to getting your ad, business, brand, personality seen and paid attention to.
- I was completely honest about what was and was not cool about the car. When the buyer showed up, he saw what he'd read about. Be honest and up front about your strengths and weaknesses. It takes guts, but most people admire and respect you for your candidness.
- I wrote the ad as if I were talking to a good friend. It wasn't overly "salesy" and it wasn't underselling the fact that I wanted to sell the batmobile quickly.
- I made it fun. The way I wrote the ad was slightly humorous, so it stuck out in the reader's mind as he read through it. (Speaking of hilarious Craigslist ads, you should read this one.) Who's car would you rather buy? Someone who doesn't put a picture and just lists off two boring sentences about it. Or someone who puts all of the details along with some clever explanations, playful language, and humorous verbiage? At least you'll remember my ad.
You may not be selling on Craigslist any time soon, but if you're writing an important email or making a pitch and want it to get attention and action, these tips also apply: the subject line matters, be honest and to the point, write well, and have fun.
(photo via trey ratcliff)
Posted on October 22, 2013
by Tim & Tommy filed under